Bulb Planting Time!

Fall is often the best time for planting many hardy plants, including most bulbs, and this includes dividing and replanting. Lately we’ve been busy planting spring and summer flowering bulbs, daffodils, squill, snowdrops, grape hyacinth, fritillaria, flowering onions, lilies, tulips, crocus, camassia, and the like. In my opinion, the biggest mistake one can make when planting bulbs is pussy-footing around and dabbling with them. Ten daffodils won’t make much of a statement (unless they’re in a pot) and in March and April, when winter blight has us thinking about a little stroll on the third rail, what we need is a big, splashy, exuberant visual statement. When you read garden books and they advise planting bulbs in drifts, they mean 150 or more daffodils in a 4′ x 10′ space, or 300 squill in a similarly sized area. I have no idea what a prescription of Prozac costs or how many dosages are included in the vial but I do know that 300 squill (scilla) bulbs cost about $80. and when in flower, create an ethereal, inspiring, vibrant, blue carpet that is indescribably stimulating (thus, all the previous adjectives) with almost no side effects, if you plan the plantings right. (Yes, you’ll want something to follow behind the squill to create another visual event. That’s easily done and likely the subject for a future post). Meanwhile, back at the ranch, for those of us sado-masochistic gardeners who treat dahlias and gladiolas and cannas as if they were members of the family, no matter how many of them there are or how unexceptional that may have turned out to be, we dig them up, now, and store them in a frost free place, nestled  in sawdust or peat moss or some other neutral and dryish and softish packing material (not marshmallows or Lucky Charms) to spend the winter, albeit, in the basement.  There’s still time to order bulbs and get them in the ground but don’t dawdle. Do it now, quick as a bunny, if you want the rewards that spring will give you.

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